The Plight of the Quiet, Shy and Awkward

Haiiro

Haiiro (2012)

Here’s the thing: I hate myself. I have hated myself since second grade. I’m pretty sure I hated myself before that but having destroyed so many brain cells from years of excessive drinking and high-school experimentation with drugs, I cannot say this for certain. I can’t blame my parents for this self-loathing; they did their best to encourage me to be me, always telling me they loved me and that I was smart and beautiful and unique. Yet somehow, as early as age seven, I hated myself. I compared myself to other girls, I was shy and embarrassed around boys and the popular crowd, I thought I was ugly. At seven fucking years old. Unfortunately, almost two decades later, those feelings have not changed.

I feel that there are two very strong forces fighting against my chance at happiness in life. The first, which I believe actually stems from the second, is my complete lack of sober socialization. As I matured, I thought I knew how to flirt with boys and have relationships with them. I’m realizing now that they flirted with, liked and had relationships with Drunk-me. Drunk-me is talkative; Drunk-me is funny and has opinions about things; Drunk-me actually has a sex-drive. While Drunk-me has my fair share of problems, the problem itself lies in Sober-me having virtually no experience with relationships with men, platonic or otherwise. I have always, always struggled to open up and relax around others, especially with people who I find attractive, who are older than me, or who I perceive to be “cooler” than myself. Once it’s up to Sober-me to interact with these people, I fall short and they lose interest. I’m afraid that the social skills of Sober-me never progressed past the age of 15, when I began drinking to socialize. It is a horrifying thought but it explains a lot about my interactions with people today. I am a 26 year old with the socialization level of a teenager. Christ.

The other force that is working against me is my low (see: non-existent) self-esteem. I have a hard time talking about it because I want to throw the word “depressed” in there but not having been diagnosed as such, I hesitate to say anything even similar. What I can say for certain is that I am sad most of the time and when I am not sad, I feel nothing. Occasionally I’ll say or do things, but it’s never said or done with any passion. If I leave any impression on other’s lives, it never has a lasting effect and fades instantaneously. I am a ghost.

As an example, today I spent the majority of my day with a group of friends planning our upcoming road trip to New Orleans. Sounds like fun, right? We went to brunch, mapped out a route, browsed the various roadside attractions we’ll be passing by and booked our hotel in the destination city. I spent a total of six hours in great company making plans for a huge life experience, and yet that the exact same day could have happened with or without my presence. Conversations were had but I was not a part of them. I listened to people I’m supposed to be friends with have a good time with each other, teasing, laughing, casually hanging out; I chuckled here and there but I was an outcast. I was boring. I was dull. I was stupid. I was ugly. I was lame. I was fat and weird and awkward and I wish they were taking someone else on the trip so I wouldn’t feel so bad for being such lousy company.

This is how I think of myself every single day and it only worsens with time. Where I used to have interests and hobbies and favorite subjects, I now have feelings of inadequacy. I find myself saying things like: “I’m not familiar with that subject” or “I watched that show once, it was okay,” or “I recognize the band name but I don’t really remember how they sound” or “I don’t have any strong feelings about that one way or the other.” At this point, I don’t have any strong feelings at all. I am not strong. I am poisoning myself from the inside out. I don’t feel worthy of claiming ideas or interests or passions as my own because, compared to others, I don’t like them enough.

It always comes back to comparing myself to others. When I’m with people, I am silent because I feel that I am less everything compared to them. When I’m not with people, social media has given me the opportunity to compare myself to others on an even broader spectrum than I could before. Not only can I compare myself to people I actually know, I can compare myself to people I don’t know and probably never will. Against them I can scrutinize my looks, thoughts, intelligence, cliques, accomplishments, wealth, ambition, passions and interests, my overall happiness. Yet I know that social media allows us to create masks of ourselves for the world to see. I look at my own social media pages and see only posts of the fun things I’m doing and the people I know and the good moments I have and what a hypocrite! I sit here alone contemplating my own misery and contempt; comparing my true level of happiness to false and unattainable goals.

I’ve never been tested for or diagnosed with depression or any other mental illness but I cannot imagine that what I’m experiencing is healthy. I’m afraid that with the combination of a social media centered world and my damaged self-esteem, I have completely forgotten how to have a personality, how to relate to people and how to live. A few weeks ago I was describing this to a close friend from my hometown, trying to put to words what it feels like to watch my own self-destruction. I told her that what I see is the image of a woman with a head filled with black smoke, you can’t see her face because it’s just a dark and empty void. This is how I feel when I look at myself each day, when I lie in bed alone, when I interact with friends and acquaintances. Unrelenting, toxic thoughts, slowly destroying me and everything around me and with each passing day the cloud of smoke grows.

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No, Cupid

Online Dating

I have been on and off the online dating site, OKCupid, for a number of years now; off during moments of contempt and clarity, on during moments of loneliness, longing and slight inebriation. I’m currently in the latter stage and decided that, this time, it might be a good idea to document my various failures and successes.

Let’s start with a failure because, let’s be honest, it’s OKCupid. Here are the highlights from my date with Dan*:

1. Met someone even MORE awkward than myself, and somehow became the non-awkward one. It was awkward.

2. For the first time ever I went on a date with a bro, but the bro was me! See, we went to this bar near my house on Thanksgiving eve which is, apparently, one of the busiest drinking nights of the year. The bar was PACKED…with extremely attractive men. I found my gaze slowly drifting away from Dan’s face to the babe(s) at the bar behind him. I struggled to pay attention and I hated myself. I really hope he didn’t notice.

3. Towards the end of the date when I told Dan I didn’t see this going anywhere besides a friendship, I was given the pleasure of a 15 minute – NO JOKE – detailed explanation on why he was in agreement. Sigh.

4. Dan is bisexual and, after we got past his Reasons Why I’m Also Not Attracted to You Guide, he told me about an experiment he’d done on OKCupid where he’d made a fake profile as a woman. He’d experienced a small amount of harassment from the Men of OKCupid (MOO) when he changed his sexual orientation to “Bisexual” so he wanted to see the online dating world from a female’s perspective. That definitely gave us (and any female who has ever used the internet ever) something to talk about. MOO are the worst.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see Dan again (though he has sent me two different pictures of his cats in the last 2 days…I have to stop giving my phone number out so quickly) but I’m going to take this mediocre date as encouragement to keep trying. It could be better, and it could be worse, and sometimes it’s neither and you just get a few free beers out of it.

*Name has been changed due to my inability to remember this guy’s actual name.